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Evaluate The Policies of Lord Curzon

  • Last Updated : 23 Dec, 2021

Lord Curzon, the youngest Viceroy, at the age of 39, came to India as the successor of Lord Elgin in the Year 1899. During his time from 1899 to 1905, India was seen as an important period in the history of the freedom struggle. Before his arrival, India witnessed severe economic and political crisis, and looking at the situation, there was a dire need for a robust ideological person to control the situation, and Britishers found Lord Curzon to be the appropriate person. Looking at the situation, there was a dire need for a robust ideological person to control the situation, and Britishers found Lord Curzon to be the appropriate person. Lord Curzon followed a profoundly racist attitude and believed in white man supremacy, and thought Indians to be inferior to the British. He was intolerant towards India’s political purpose. Innumerable policies were implemented during his tenure.

The Policies of Lord Curzon:

1. Partition of Bengal:

The partition of Bengal was one of the major drawbacks of the Curzon policy. Its aim was to divide Bengal into a communal division: West Bengal had a Hindu majority, and East Bengal had a Muslim majority. In 1905, Curzon announced that it would be difficult to administer such a large province of Bengal, and for better administration, he decided to partition Bengal, but the real motive was different.

2. Educational Reforms:

Curzon played a vital role in university reform, and in 1904 he founded the University Committee. The commission has initiated a process to improve the quality of higher education. However, the real motive was that he wanted to control the voices coming from this university, and to suppress them he drafted the University Act of 1904. Gokhale called this a retrograde measure.

3. Calcutta Corporation Law and Ancient Monuments Act:

  • Curzon introduced the Calcutta Corporation Act in 1899, which reduced the number of elected Indian members to the company, and Indians were called incompetent and tried to subdue the British government completely.
  • The Ancient Monuments Act of 1904 was introduced by Curzon to protect the important monuments of the empire. The law requires the protection of monuments.

4. Agricultural Reforms: 

  • In 1904, the Co-operative Credit Union Act was passed, which encouraged people to set up deposits and loans, mainly to protect farmers from the clutches of moneylenders, who usually demanded exorbitant interest.
  • In 1900, the Punjab Land Seizure Act was passed, which prohibited the transfer of land to usurers in case farmers did not pay their loans.

5. Railways: 

  • He appointed a railway committee headed by Robertson in 1901, and two years later the committee submitted its report, and Curzon accepted the recommendation by expanding the railway lines. He also abolished the railway department and transferred the railway administration from the Public Works Department to a three-member Railway Council.
  • He organized the Railway administration on a commercial line with the objective of earning profit.

6. Foreign policies of Lord Curzon:

  •  With Afghan: Lord Curzon’s Afghan politics were motivated by political and economic interests and fears of Russian expansion into Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. From the very beginning, there was a separation between the Afghans and the British. With an agreement between Abdul Rahman and the British, the latter has promised to provide financial aid to Afghanistan, thereby easing its tensions in Afghanistan.
  • With Tibet: Lord Curzon’s Tibetan policy was also influenced by the fear of Russian rule in the region. In 1890 the Tibetans entered into a trade agreement with the British, but when Lord Curzon became the Viceroy, trade relations between Tibet and British India broke down completely and it was the effort of Lord Curzon’s which improved the trade relations between the two countries and Tibet agreed to pay large compensation to the British.
  • With Northwest Frontier: Curzon, unlike his forefathers, pursued a policy of consolidating and protecting British-occupied territories in the North-West. He put Chitral under British control and built a road between Peshawar and Chitral, ensuring the security of Chitral. Khyber Pass, Khur Valley, and Waziristan were the places where their ancestors stationed small British soldiers.
  • With Persia: In order to improve its relations with Persia, Lord Curzon personally visited the gulf in 1903 to protect the British interest by getting the support of the Persians.

The implication of Lord Curzon Policy:

1. Increase In Nationalist Sentiments:

Curzon’s policies arose nationalist sentiments among Indians. The role of the extremists came to the fore after Curzon’s departure. The partition of Bengal started a mass movement in Bengal and throughout the country and the anti-partition movement, Swadeshi movement and Vande Mataram movement were all effects of Curzon’s policies.

2. Birth of Divide and Rule policy:

Curzon believed in communal politics. It was Curzon who initiated the policy of division to rule over the territory of India. He turned Muslim leaders against Congress leaders to divide the country, but this gave force to the movement by making the Indians aware of the British’s actual intention.

3. Rise of Extremism:

Lord Curzon’s policies led to the rise of extremism in the Indian National Congress. Leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji dominated the congress before Curzon’s arrival but later extremist leaders came to the fore of the national movement. However, Curzon’s strict policies strengthened the ideology of leaders like Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, and others who played an important role in the freedom struggle.

4.  Indians diaspora support:

Curzon’s policies have almost alienated his sympathetic Indians from the British government. Curzon’s policies exposed the true nature of the British to Indians and helped India gain the support of the diaspora.

5. Renaissance of Indian Culture:

Curzon’s policies made Indians proud of their rich heritage and culture, and the inferiority complex of Indians was greatly reduced. They now realized the superiority of the  Indian culture over the western culture. The Archaeological Survey of India was established to revive the pride of India.

6. Awakening of the nationalist movement:

Lord Curzon’s policies exposed their true nature and compelled Indians to take steps to drive the British out of India. It strengthened the nationalist feelings of the Indians, and the request for swaraj became more intense.

7. Step towards self-reliant India:

Indians boycotted the schools and colleges during the partition of Bengal. Many factories, schools, and colleges were also opened in some places by different persons. The university act also led to technological up-gradation of the education system. Such a step gave Indians the confidence to be self-reliant. 

Finally, we can conclude that the reactionary policies of Lord Curzon arose national consciousness among the Indians.

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